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Lake Erie & Western New York Fishing Hotline

February 26 to March 5, 2021

In light of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, we ask that you please act safely when fishing. Do not crowd access sites. If you arrive at an angler access area that is congested, consider finding another area that is less crowded or consider fishing another day. When you're on the water, please make sure there is ample room between you and your fellow anglers. Don't share a boat unless it is large enough so that all persons aboard can always remain at a minimum distance of six feet apart. Providing ample distance helps to reduce the spread of colds, flu and COVID-19 and also contributes to an overall better angling experience. When boating and fishing, DEC and State Parks recommend New Yorkers to #RecreateLocal, avoid busy waters and follow the guidelines for Recreating Safely and Responsibly in New York State.

boy holding two yellow perch she caught ice fishing
Cory and son Jordan enjoyed good
yellow perch action recently at
Chautauqua Lake, off Mayville

Ice Fishing

With warming temperatures and progressively longer days, it is again time to be extra vigilant about ice safety. The region's main ice sheets (inland waters), currently around 10 to 14 inches should last a while, but ice will progressively be deteriorating, especially near inlets, springs, gas holes and along the shore. Be sure to pack along ice safety supplies and spud your way around from here on out.

Keep in mind that ice thickness can vary greatly on the same body of water, especially if there are springs, stream inlets or heavy snow cover. Remember that a minimum of 4 inches of solid ice (clear) is the general rule for safety, for individuals on foot. Five inches of solid ice is better for a small group fishing together. "White", or slush ice is about 50% weaker. Drilling holes or tapping with a spud bar to check ice thickness is recommended on your way out, or when moving around. Safety ice picks, boot cleats, throw rope and a floatation devise are recommended safety supplies. Those new to ice fishing can check the Learn To Ice Fish page for more information. See the Lake Contour Maps page for lake maps, organized by County.

Buffalo Boat Harbor

The inner harbor has about 10 inches of ice, with thinner ice closer to the shoreline rip rap. Anglers still catching decent to good numbers of bluegill, pumpkinseed and yellow perch, with a few or more keepers per outing. Anglers also see the occasional keeper crappie or northern pike catch.

Silver Lake

The main ice sheet is around a foot thick. In deeper areas of 20-34 feet of water, roving yellow perch schools provide good action at times, but it is tough to locate many perch over 8 inches. Hole hopping helps increase catch count of keeper-sized perch. Jigging in the south end shallows produces a modest mix of yellow perch and sunfish, and tip-ups with shiners catch the occasional pike.

Chautauqua Lake

Ice is about a foot thick and consists of 7-8 inches of clear. The surface has a mix of slick and slushy spots. Despite a strong population size, walleye fishing has been generally slow this season. Some anglers have it dialed in, but many anglers are struggling. Depths of 20-40 feet of water in the north basin have been most productive via vertical jigging techniques. Weed edges in 8-12 feet of water have also produced some walleye catches around dawn and dusk. Jigging is a better bet, but tip-ups with medium-sized shiners and minnows have caught the very occasional eye. Yellow perch have been cooperative lakewide. Weedy areas inside of 15 feet have produced better numbers of 9-10 inch perch on jigs and grubs, and tip-ups with medium shiners. Anglers report fast action for sizeable white perch in the north basin's deeper holes, at depths over 30 feet. Visit the Chautauqua Lake page for more fishing information.

Honeoye Lake

Anglers report slower daytime jigging for sunfish and yellow perch around the south end shallows, but the bite tends to pick up towards dark. Tip-ups and shiners set in weedy areas mostly catch largemouth bass, chain pickerel and larger yellow perch. Yellow perch are the predominant catch at depths over 20 feet. Catch numbers are modest, but most are quality fish including some jumbos. Tip-ups with "bass" goldens or large emeralds, and jigging lures and spoons tipped with a minnow have worked well for perch. The bonus walleye catch is possible in both deep and shallower areas.

Conesus Lake

At the north end off Vitale Park, ice is about 9-10 inches thick out to 10-13 feet of water. Assume that the ice is unsafe beyond that. Anglers are seeing a decent sunfish bite inside 10 feet of water in areas with weeds. Tip-ups with large shiners produce the occasional northern pike or tiger muskellunge.

Southern Tier Lakes

Case, Harwood, New Albion, Allen, Red House and Quaker Lakes all have good ice and provide fishing opportunities for a variety of warmwater fish. Anglers also have a chance to catch large broodstock trout (14"-28"), as each lake was stocked with broodstock trout in the fall. Some holdover spring stockies are also available.

Lake Erie Tributaries

The Lake Erie watershed has a good amount of snowpack this year, and tributary streams are seeing a bump in flow with each warmer day. Ice is deteriorating and creeks are opening back up. A blowout is very possible with warmer temps and rain in the weekend's forecast. For those new to steelhead fishing, see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Erie Tributaries page.

Niagara River

Lake Erie ice covering dampened the effects of this weeks's windy weather on lower river water clarity, and the river is currently in good shape. Be aware that any day with stiff winds out of the southwest can push masses of floating ice over the ice boom and down the river, potentially shutting down the fishing for a couple days. Recently, boaters have been catching steelhead and walleye in the mid to upper drifts. Shore anglers in the gorge catch mainly steelhead. All NYPA fishing facilities (at Power Vista and Reservoir) are closed for winter season. For fishing access maps and lower river fishing information see the Fishing the Lower Niagara River page.

Lake Ontario Tributaries

Prior to this week, fishing for limited numbers of darker steelhead had been isolated to the open areas below the dams on Eighteenmile and Oak Orchards Creek. With this weeks warm-up, Eighteenmile and Oak Orchard flows bumped up to moderate to slightly high with a slight stain. Flows also came up on the freestone streams and is breaking up the ice. A blowout is probable for the weekend with warmer temps and rain in the forecast. Look for fresh steelhead to be running the streams as flows recede. For those new to stream fishing for steelhead see the Steelhead Fishing in Lake Ontario Tributaries page for more information.

If you need more fishing information or would like to contribute to the fishing report, please call or e-mail Mike Todd (716-851-7010; fwfish9@dec.ny.gov). Good Luck Fishing!

The fishing hotline can also be heard at (716) 679-ERIE or (716) 855-FISH.